For clearly selfish reasons, members of the Liberian Legislature believe that dishing out nearly US$4million (US$3,090,000) among themselves on Capitol Hill is honorable and legitimate because they allot the money to themselves in the national budget.
But truly, such display of arrogance and greed by a small group of men and women who claim to represent the rest of the nearly 5 million Liberians is nothing less than high insensitivity and broad day thievery or political corruption, as opposition leader Mr. Alexander B. Cummings noted recently in Monrovia.
In the midst of a fatal health pandemic and grinding poverty in the country, for lawmakers to defend they need the money to engage their respective constituents is very deceptive because there is no measure put in place for accountability.
What is even paradoxical is that lawmakers preside over the national budget and regularly demand performance report from the Executive, particularly from spending ministries and agencies but these same breed of people consistently refuse to be audited and therefore, are not accountable to the people who elected them. How dare they would ask the Executive to account when they themselves are not accountable?
When teachers and other members of the civil service are being pensioned without receiving benefits, and monthly salary payment delays in an economy where the majority lives on less than US$2.00 a day, 103 lawmakers shared about US$4million that is in addition to their own monthly salary and benefits that cover housing, car, driver, gasoline, cook, security, health and personal office staff. You can see where Liberia is headed!
Amid such display of uncontrollable greed and reckless insensitivity, let’s take a close look at the Capitol Building where lawmakers sit to conduct business. The chambers are leaking because of lack of repairs, while serious sanitary and health crises loom as restrooms or toilets are cloaked due to lack of running water to flush commodes and visitors are embarrassingly sent out to urinate and in some instances, defecate behind containers inside the compound of the Capitol Building.
Liberian voters need to take a sober reflection each time they go to the ballot box to decide leadership for the country. We can bet this is not the quality of leadership they envisaged when they cast the votes both in 2017 and in 2020, respectively.
Even as we speak, this tiny country of 5 million people has no vaccines in stock to fight the coronavirus despite being ranked at Level 4 (very highly infected country) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States. Besides, hospitals battling the pandemic across the country lack oxygen, not to speak of PPEs for doctors and nurses on the frontline.
Yet, lawmakers are dishing out millions among themselves for personal expenditure at the expense of the people with no remorse whatsoever. It is a pity that this nation is being subjected to such bad governance.
However, Liberians have within their power, decision to change the current corrupt and self-seeking legislature on Capitol Hill. They can protest under the law and petition their lawmakers to repeal such law that allows them (lawmakers) to dish out millions while hospitals and schools across the country lack drugs, relevant tools to work with, and chairs and qualified teachers in the classroom.
We believe the Executive takes pleasures in disbursing such money to buy its own way into pillaging what is left in the national coffer as the system of check and balance is relegated and lawmakers feast with US$30,000 each in their pockets.